Researcher talking to a group of people in a water chemistry lab
Visitors toured aquaculture research facilities and discussed challenges and opportunities facing coastal communities and the seafood industry with faculty members. Photo by Keri Rouse for Virginia Tech.

On Wednesday, February 1, participants of LEAD Peninsula — a community and civic immersion program offering a look at the components that make the Peninsula run effectively and prosper economically — visited the Virginia Seafood AREC in Hampton. Visitors joined center director Michael Schwarz to learn about center programs supporting a resilient seafood industry through research and extension work in aquaculture, engineering, food safety, bioprocessing, and more.

A visit highlight was a tour of the new building and aquaculture research facilities where numerous fish, crustaceans, and bivalves are studied. In one room, hybrid striped bass swim in tanks, some equipped with new, advanced purification systems developed by environmental engineering company Pancopia. VSAREC aquaculture specialists are testing its effectiveness in treating taste and odor compounds that can accumulate in production systems and negatively impact marketability and profit for farmers.

Person looking at infographic during a presentation

LEAD Peninsula further aims to foster opportunities for increased communication and cooperation among the private, public, and nonprofit sectors. To that end, the group also visited the Seafood Economic Analysis and Marketing Research (SEAMaR) and Virginia Tech Coastal Collaborator offices, where faculty led discussions around the economic impact of the Virginia Seafood Industry and some of the challenges and opportunities facing coastal communities.